NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Tyra Gittens' long-time coach calls her a legend.
A state-record 17 individual high school championships at Ensworth prove it.
“I knew right away she had a special talent,” said Jan Pippin, her former coach at Precision Track Club in Nashville. “You could tell by the way she moved, an explosive, natural talent.”
After leaving her high school coach, Gittens continued to excel at Texas A&M.
At just 23 years old, her long jump of 22 feet, 10 inches earned her a spot to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“It’s been so surreal, but at the same time, I’ve been training for this moment since I stepped foot with Coach Jan,” said Gittens, who was training for the Olympics in College Station, TX. “It’s exciting to have goals and dreams achieved, but also always knew this day would happen, so those two feelings are clashing together, feel like I’m stuck and I don’t know how I feel.”
Unfortunately Gittens, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago before moving to Nashville as a toddler, will not be able to represent her home country in the Opening Ceremonies Friday as only a limited number will be able to participate due to COVID-19 protocols.
“Definitely a tearjerker right there,” said Gittens. “It’s going to be sad, but it’s our reality and we have to adapt.”
Another sad reality will not be sharing this moment with her friends and family as fans are not allowed in Tokyo.
“For them not to be there, it is very sad. They have been supporting me from afar for a few years, so this is going to be nothing different,” said Gittens. “I’m so blessed to have amazing coaches growing up. Not everyone has it. So blessed to have had that.”
Gittens credits her Ensworth staff, head coach Dillon Seigenthaler, and Precision staff Tyler Anderson, Ryan Douglas, John Hewitt, Doug Jones, Rob Carlson, Will Narramore, Katherine Dresch, Ben Johnson and Kirstyn Sweeney Hewitt for helping her reach Olympic status.